Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Mike's stroke. He's come a long way since then. Rather than letting his limitations annoy me, I try to be thankful for what he has regained. I don't always succeed, but I am trying.

We had a saying in 12-step groups, "Act as if, and the feelings will follow." Most of the time that works for me, sometimes it doesn't. Like acting on a stage, it helps to have experience to draw from, whether the situation calls for sympathy, compassion, encouragement, or physical assistance. Knowing what's needed then doing it, even when I feel like doing the opposite, takes more experience and a stronger will than I sometimes have.

His IEED (Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder, caused by the stroke) is harder for me to cope with than his physical handicaps. The line between IEED and lack of self-control is impossible to detect, at times. The temper tantrums, the anxiety attacks, the tearful sentimentality - what is caused by the stroke, and what would have been there without the stroke? It's just hard to know most of the time.

Who is this stranger who depends on me way more than I want to be depended on? How much does he really need from me, and how much of it is control and manipulation, which I've resisted my whole life. There's another stranger staring back at me from my mirror, feeling one way and doing something else. I guess we're each having an identity crisis.

I got really sad yesterday afternoon and would have been very vulnerable to anyone who happened along and offered me a hug. I miss my husband's two-armed embrace terribly. Nothing feels better sometimes than just being held. Men have complained when women say that, but it's true. "No sex, no romance, just hold me." They roll their eyes. Thank goodness I have several gay guy friends in the choir. They understand, and gladly oblige.

Then in a dream last night, Don came and held me while I wept torrents of tears that wouldn't come when I was awake. It's not the first time I've dreamed that. (Reminds me of a song he used to sing: You'll be back every night in my dreams, You'll be back, and it won't even seem like you're gone...) Today, I'm drawing on the comfort I got from that embrace. Thank you, Don, and thank you, Lord, for sending him.

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